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Apple may introduce iPad news subscriptions at media event Dec. 9


Apple may hold a press event as soon as Dec. 9 with a number of print executives — including News Corp's Rupert Murdoch — to unveil a new subscription billing option for newspapers and magazines on the iPad.

Echoing previous rumors that News Corp and Apple are working together on a tablet-only daily newspaper called The Daily, John Gruber of Daring Fireball reported Monday that he has heard that Apple may hold an event on Dec. 9. However, he cautioned that since the date Apple is purportedly sharing with people is a Thursday, the company may push the date back to the week after.

"My understanding, based on information from sources not at Apple, is that this is not something like iBooks — there is no central 'iNews' or 'Newsstand' app from Apple," Gruber wrote. "Rather, it's a new subscription billing option for apps — true recurring submissions — paid through your iTunes account."

He went on to say that developers at News Corp have "preliminary documentation" on Apple's subscription billing application programming interfaces. He said the new software will likely require a new version of iOS, though The Daily could launch early and free of charge until support from Apple is in place.

The report echoes much of what was shared over the weekend by The Guardian. In that report, the U.K. publication said that the new tablet-only project from News Corp will be the result of a joint effort with Apple.

The new publication will not be based on a print product or a website. Instead, it will be an entirely new publication, staffed by 100 journalists who work on the 26th floor of the News Corp offices in New York.

Gruber's report also casts doubt on previous reports that alleged Apple was working on a standalone digital newsstand application. In September, it was alleged that Apple would create a new storefront, like the App Store or iBooks, for magazines and newspapers.

The latest news does lend support, however, to previous rumors that Apple is working on a newspaper subscription plan for the iPad. Such plans did not previously exist because magazines and newspapers rely on demographic information to sell advertising space — information about customers that Apple is not willing to share with third parties.

Previous rumors suggested that Apple would implement an opt-in function that would allow subscribers to elect to share their personal information with publications. Advertisers and publishers consider that information to be their most valuable asset.